Antibiotics: The Medical Miracle

Antibiotics are a group of medicines that are used to treat infections caused by germs (bacteria and certain parasites). These are sometimes called antibacterial or antimicrobials. Antimicrobials can be taken orally as liquids, tablets, or capsules, or they can be given by injection. Antibiotics are also available as creams, ointments, or lotions to apply to the skin to treat certain skin infections.

AntibioticsAntimicrobials are of different types based upon the brand names, mechanism of action, chemical structure, or spectrum of activity. Each type of antibiotic only work against certain types of bacteria or parasites. This is why different antibiotics are used to treat different types of infection. The main types of antibiotics include:

  • Penicillins – for example, phenoxymethylpenicillin, flucloxacillin and amoxicillin.
  • Tetracyclines – for example, tetracycline, doxycycline and lymecycline.
  • Macrolides – for example, erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycin.
  • Cephalosporins – for example, cefaclor, cefadroxil and cefalexin.
  • Aminoglycosides – for example, gentamicin and tobramycin.
  • Clindamycin.
  • Sulfonamides and trimethoprim – for example, co-trimoxazole.
  • Metronidazole and tinidazole.
  • Quinolones – for example, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and norfloxacin.

    Antibiotics are screened for any negative effects on humans or other mammals before approval for clinical use, and are usually considered safe and most are well tolerated

There are other factors that influence the choice of an antibiotic. These include:

  • Severity of the infection.
  • Working of kidneys and liver.
  • Dosing schedule.
  • Other medications.
  • Side-effects.
  • History of having an allergy to certain type of antibiotic.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding.

With the growing development of antibiotic resistance, it is imperative that we no longer take the availability of effective antibiotics for granted. As a nation, we must respond to this growing problem, and our response needs to be multi-factorial and multidisciplinary. By building on our current efforts, we can extend the life of current antibiotics and develop future antibiotic therapies to protect us from current and future diseases.

Journal of Vaccine & Immunotechnology

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